Despite high and volatile prices, U.S. petroleum demand in 2004 grew at its strongest rate in five years, reported the American Petroleum Institute in its 2004 year-end Monthly Statistical Report. The surge in demand resulted partly as a result of strong demand for highway diesel.
Demand for on-highway diesel fuel gave it the single largest percentage gain among the major market segments for petroleum products. Moreover, with increases in deliveries across all major products, total petroleum deliveries (a key measure of demand) rose 2.3% in 2004, their largest annual increase since 1999.
Other highlights of the report:
Low-sulfur diesel fuel deliveries jumped nearly 7%, driven by strong economic growth in the industrial sector that propelled increased demand for highway transportation.
U.S. refinery activity set numerous records in 2004. Gasoline and distillate fuel oil each reached new production highs, and the average refinery utilization rate edged upwards to the highest annual rate in six years at 92.8% of capacity, according to the API. Gasoline production of 8.68 million barrels per day was 2.1% higher than in 2003, and distillate output exceeded the previous year’s by nearly 3% at 3.82 million barrels per day.
The long-term growth in U.S. petroleum imports continued in 2004. The year’s crude oil imports rose 4.0% to exceed 10 million barrels per day for the first time. Refined product imports grew nearly 10% to 2.86 million barrels per day, their highest level in more than 30 years. Together, imports of crude and products rose about 5% to 12.9 million barrels per day.
Domestic crude production continued to decline in 2004, falling 3.8% for the year to 5.47 million barrels per day. Lower 48 output dropped 3.4% to 4.55 million barrels per day, its largest decline since 1999, API reported. The aftereffects of Hurricane Ivan on offshore facilities represented as much as two-thirds of that decline. Alaskan production experienced its largest drop since 2000, declining 5.5 percent.
This is not the right direction in which to be moving.